Why is this important?
Can your energy supplier disconnect you?
While it is very unusual to be disconnected if you’re behind with your energy bills, it can happen. That’s why it is important to contact your supplier as soon as possible if you’re having trouble paying your bills.
This page explains what you should do if your supplier is threatening to disconnect you because of arrears.
Top tipsIf you’re struggling to pay your bills, don’t ignore the problem and hope it will go away. If you contact your supplier to explain the situation, they must work with you to arrange a payment plan based on what you can afford to pay. If you don’t, you run the risk of being disconnected.
Can you be disconnected if you’re behind with energy bills?
It is very unusual to be disconnected if you’re behind with your energy bills. All the energy suppliers have to follow certain rules on how they should treat customers who are having trouble paying.
However, it is very important that you tell your supplier as soon as possible if you’re having trouble paying your bills. They must offer you a payment plan to pay off your arrears at a rate you can afford.
If your bill remains unpaid
If your bills remains unpaid, your supplier can apply to the courts for a rights of entry warrant to access your meter. Your supplier has to tell you in advance they’re going to apply for a warrant as there will be a court hearing, which you can attend to have your say in front of the magistrate.
If the magistrate grants a warrant, your supplier could disconnect your supply, but in most cases they’ll fit a prepayment meter if they can and if it’s suitable for you.
What happens in a disconnection?
Your fuel supplier can't cut you off without sending you a disconnection notice first. They can't send you a disconnection notice until at least 28 days after they send your bill. They must give you at least seven days notice, in writing, before they disconnect you.
In practice, it's unlikely you'll be disconnected, as long as you contact your supplier and make arrangements to pay off the arrears.
If your supplier disconnects you, they will give you contact details so you can discuss paying off the debt and find out how you can get reconnected.
If you can’t keep to your payment plan, you may have to consider other ways to pay:
- direct payment from your benefits
- changing to a prepayment meter
- asking someone to stand as a guarantor for your payments.
If you’ve received a disconnection notice or have been disconnected, you should contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline, where you may be able to get some extra support.
- More information about prepayment meters
- More information about other ways you might be asked to pay if you’re in debt
- Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline
Suppliers have agreed not to knowingly disconnect anyone who is considered vulnerable. They mustn’t, between October and March, disconnect pensioners living alone or with other pensioners, or pensioners living with children under 18.
You may have extra protection from being disconnected if you:
- are a pensioner
- have long-term ill health
- are disabled
- have severe financial problems
- have very young children living in your home.
If you’re in one of these groups of people, make sure you tell your supplier this when you contact them.
If you can't understand or act on the advice given
If you can't understand or act on the advice given, for example, because of personal circumstances or the complexity of the problem, you may count as a vulnerable customer. If you count as a vulnerable customer and still can't sort out the problem with the supplier directly, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.
What your supplier agrees with you will depend on your past payment history and circumstances.
Your supplier may add a reconnection fee, administrative costs associated with the disconnection and reconnection, and a security deposit to the money you owe.
If you have been disconnected, or are threatened with disconnection, and have not been able to sort things out with your energy supplier, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.
More information about paying energy bills
- In Wales, you may be able to get help with reconnection charges from the Discretionary Assistance Fund
Other useful information
The Home Heat Helpline
The Home Heat Helpline offers advice on energy efficiency and fuel debts to people on a low income. The Helpline can also make sure that if you're in one of the groups of people who should get extra protection from disconnection, you're not at risk of being cut off. You can contact the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99.